Primary prevention seeks to stop sexual violence before it occurs through addressing its root causes, such as harmful social norms and inequitable social structures. Rather than placing responsibility for preventing sexual violence on victims, it is important that primary prevention examine and address root causes of perpetration.
There are many individual and societal factors that contribute to the perpetration of sexual violence. Contrary to popular belief, sexual violence is not a result of uncontrollable sexual desires, rather it is an act that draws on an individual’s sense of entitlement to another person and fulfills their need for power, control, and dominance over that person.
Unfortunately, our culture encourages many harmful social norms that contribute to the perpetration of sexual violence. Norms that accept and condone violence, emphasize valuing and maintaining power over others, privacy and silence about violence, narrow definitions of masculinity vs femininity, and the sexualization of children and young people all contribute to the unparalleled frequency of sexual violence in comparison to other forms of violence.
The YWCA West Central Michigan focuses its prevention efforts on challenging and reshaping these harmful social norms through education, policy, and community based initiatives that empower community members to prevent sexual violence.